Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
Whether or not “The Gospel” can be narrowed down to a presentation or a “Plan of Salvation,” is of secondary concern to this post.
Certain assumptions must be made before we begin and you will have an opportunity to discuss whether or not those assumptions are valid in the comment section.
1. The Gospel is “Good News,” and news contains data.
2. Data can be summarized or expanded and transferred from one person to another or one community to another.
3. This transference of Gospel data is called “Evangelism.”
4. Evangelism is not soul winning directly, but the data transmitted has the power to win souls.
5. The Gospel is also a person. That person being Jesus Christ Himself.
6. We can demonstrate Christlike actions towards others and in like matter & “show” the Gospel.
Now to the purpose of this post. How many times have you heard one person or another say that they were out sharing the Gospel or they were out on an evangelistic campaign? How many “Gospel Presentations” have you either learned, seen, or taught? Can the Gospel Message be reduced to a set of sentences? If we allow, for the moment, that the Gospel can be summarized, then we would have to assume that the summary can be transmitted from one to another. Most “Plans of Salvation,” that I have seen in tracts and in other forms on the surface do a pretty good job of introducing the Gospel, but are not by any means “The Gospel.”
Can The Gospel be presented in a small tract or contained in some other form? I will leave you to answer that question later. For now, another set of questions:
Did Jesus present The Gospel to the woman at the well? John 4:13-30
Did Peter Present the Gospel in Acts 2? Acts 2:13-40
Did Paul Present the Gospel in Acts 17 on Mars Hill? Acts 17:16-43
Did Philip present the Gospel to the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8? Acts 8:26-40
Did Paul present the Gospel to the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 15? 1 Corinthians 15:1-58
Any combination of yes or no answers to these questions will have implications, or should have implications with how and when you share “The Gospel,” in the future. What is certain, and getting to the main point of this post, is that there are unnaturally created moment where the Gospel is presented out of its natural context. I can remember vividly when I was a very young man playing pinball in a New York Deli, yes they had pinball machines in Delis, when I was approached by another young man not much older than I, and he began to “preach” at me a gospel message or sorts. My first reaction was anger. Mind you the thrust of what he was saying had not yet sunk into my heart nor were the words yet like salt in an open wound. That would come later in my life. I was angry because he was interrupting my game and I was doing quite well. There was no hello, no “Hey, looks like you are doing well here,” or even, “Hi my name is…”
His desire to share the Gospel was earnest, I’m sure, but completely out of context. This brief encounter did not turn me off the the idea of Jesus, but it did make me suspect of those who supposedly carried His message. I did not reject the Gospel at the time, I rejected the person who was presenting it and the manner in which he was doing so.
If there is an appropriate environment, setting, or context in which to make a Gospel Presentation, surely that was not it. How many times with good intentions do we as followers of Jesus do exactly the same thing? We cleverly assemble a few pages, a video snippet, a gospelizing gadget, or an emotion filled verbal soliloquy, and say we are “sharing the Gospel?” How many times do we take those very same instruments of data transfer and foist them upon unsuspecting and unready hearts? We insert ourselves into foreign and strange territory and speak from an authority that is not our own. Some of us are so well prepared to win arguments, that we have equated argument winning with soul winning.
I am not saying that spontaneous evangelism should not occur, or that we should be ready in season and out to preach, nor that there may be times when the Lord leads us into a situation to speak the message of the Kingdom to another we do not know. I am saying that too many times, these Gospel presentations are like a teargas grenades launched into a unsuspecting person’s window.
Is it any wonder why there is such fear in evangelism? I have literally seen people get so worked up about going out evangelizing that they have thrown up. We look at them and think, “Oh, they’re just young in the Lord, and they will have more courage when they mature.” Perhaps, though, it is because they understand better than we seasoned believers that this may not be they way Jesus intended HIS GOOD NEWS to go forth. Maybe it’s time for us who have evangelism nailed down to a science to take a step back and unravel our giant rubber band ball of evangelism. Like the ball which accumulates size with each band, our pride too, in most cases feeds our zeal and does little for our spiritual tact.
We want to be able to summarize the Gospel so that we can present it quickly, force a “decision,” and get them to say a quick prayer in order to put another notch in our salvations count. What’s wrong with simply introducing someone to Jesus, introducing someone to the Gospel, and trusting that God’s word will have its intended effect? 1 Corinthians 3:6 Let’s be honest, when we can’t report #’s people are disappointed or think that you were out goofing off. If we were truly interested in benchmarking evangelism, why not count the number of people we’ve loved today, how many personal sacrifices we’ve made on behalf of others, how many seeds we’ve planted, or how many have been rightly introduced to the Kingdom?
This post is a mix of questions and commentary and is designed for you to engage the conversation. Surely there is one question or one comment in this post that hit a nerve. If so, please leave a comment.